It is a devastating loss for eight Nighthawk Road homeowners who saw their houses go up in flames from the Okanagan Centre fire, says Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr.
But Fuhr applauded the efforts of the Lake Country Fire Department initial response to save more homes than were burned, and for no loss of life to have resulted from the Okanagan Centre fire that broke out about 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Touring Nighthawk Road with local media on Sunday, Fuhr saw first-hand the homes that were lost. The fire randomly skipped around the subdivision, burning one house, passing over the neighbouring house, then strike the next house after that.
The street was covered in fire retardant from the firefighting aerial attack Saturday night. People had to leave so quickly, there was no time to prepare.
Door were left behind unlocked. Garage doors were left open.
Early Sunday afternoon, many of the residents had their first chance to see what was left their burned out homes prior to the media tour.
Fuhr said from his vantage point on the west side of the lake, he could see how quickly the fire spread up the hill from the roadside of Okanagan Lake Road West.
“My understanding is the local and regional resources responded super quickly and did the best they could to minimize the losses,” Fuhr said.
“I don’t want to minimize the loss for those who have seen their homes destroyed, but there were no fatalities and no serious injuries reported and that’s very important.”
Fuhr said he asked Lake Country fire department officials if this was the best-case scenario and the response was ‘yes.’
“It’s unfortunate that homes have been lost but when you consider the dry conditions and once the winds started to go, with the resources they had available I think the firefighters did a great job,” Fuhr said.
The MP noted the feds played a limited role in the Lake Country fire as those operations are generally a municipal/provincial jurisdiction.
“We are always prepared to do more but the ask has to come from the province,” Fuhr said.
He said that ask for air support has resulted in aircraft support to assist with firefighting efforts in the Interior fires.
“But with Lake Country, this fire took off so fast the reliance was on local resources to get it under control which they did, or it could have been a whole lot worse situation,” Fuhr said.